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HomeNewsVeer Savarkar- 140 years to the day 

Veer Savarkar- 140 years to the day 

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                 Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan 

It would be 140  years to the day, on May 28, 2023, that Veer Damodar Savarkar was born. He  was a prominent independence activist, politician, lawyer, and writer. He was born on May 28, 1883, in Bhagur, Maharashtra, British India. He was the youngest son of Damodar Savarkar and Radhabai. Savarkar was educated at the Fergusson College in Pune, where he studied law. He was also a member of the Abhinav Bharat, a revolutionary organization that was dedicated to overthrowing British rule in India.

We continue to assume and assert that we gained independence without bloodshed. Just a reference to ‘revolutionaries’ ( they were branded so and not as freedom fighters) stint in the Cellular jail in Andaman would reveal spine chilling experiences. And Savarkar possibly endured the most. 

In 1909, Savarkar was arrested by the British for his involvement in the Abhinav Bharat. He was sentenced to 50 years of rigorous imprisonment in the Cellular Jail in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Savarkar spent 10 years in the Cellular Jail, where he was subjected to harsh treatment. He was released from prison in 1924. He was imprisoned in the Cellular Jail in During his imprisonment. 

Savarkar was first imprisoned in the Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai in 1910. He was then transferred to the Cellular Jail in 1911. The Cellular Jail was a notorious prison where political prisoners were subjected to harsh conditions and torture.Savarkar was kept in solitary confinement for most of his time in the Cellular Jail. He was not allowed to meet with anyone, including his family and lawyers. He was also not allowed to read or write.

The British authorities subjected Savarkar to a variety of torture methods. They beat him, deprived him of food and water, and kept him in a dark cell. They also threatened to kill him and his family.Despite the torture, Savarkar never gave up his fight for India’s independence. He continued to write and inspire other freedom fighters. He also escaped from the Cellular Jail in 1914, but was recaptured and imprisoned again.

Savarkar was finally released from prison in 1924. He continued to work for India’s independence until his death in 1966.

Savarkar’s torture in the Cellular Jail is a reminder of the sacrifices that were made by the Indian freedom fighters. He is a true hero of India who will never be forgotten.

In addition to the physical torture that he endured, Savarkar was also subjected to psychological torture. The British authorities tried to break his spirit by isolating him from his family and friends, denying him books and writing materials, and threatening to kill him. However, Savarkar never gave up hope. He continued to believe in the cause of Indian independence, and he never wavered in his commitment to fighting for freedom.Savarkar’s story is an inspiration to all who fight for freedom, and it is a reminder that no matter how difficult the struggle may be, victory is always possible.

After his release from prison, Savarkar continued to be active in the Indian independence movement. He founded the Hindu Mahasabha, a political party that advocated for Hindu nationalism. Savarkar was also a prolific writer. He wrote several books on Indian history and politics, including “Hindutva: Who Is a Hindu?” and “The Indian War of Independence.”

Savarkar died on February 26, 1966, in Bombay, India. He was 82 years old.

He was a prolific writer. He wrote several books on Indian history and politics, including “Hindutva: Who Is a Hindu?” and “The Indian War of Independence.”

Veer Savarkar was a true patriot and a great freedom fighter. He dedicated his life to the cause of Indian independence. He is an inspiration to all Indians and his legacy will live on for generations to come.

But, educated and trained in a different history and perspective, the role of the revolutionaries was literally erased and pulled down like the Cellular Jail, except what remains. Yes, we did it. Even the plaque was removed on the inmates’ names  until it was restored recently. And light was shone on Savarkar’s so called apology letter to Britishers . To set the record straight here is historian Vikram Sampath’s elongated version of it. 

Vikram Sampath, the author of the book Savarkar: Echoes from a Forgotten Past, 1883-1924, interprets the 1910 alleged letter of Veer Savarkar to British authorities in the following way:The letter was written under duress. Savarkar was in prison at the time, and he was facing the possibility of being extradited to India, where he would have been tried for treason.

Savarkar was simply trying to save his life. He knew that if he did not cooperate with the British, he would be extradited and likely executed.The letter should be understood in the context of the time. Savarkar was a product of his time, and he believed that violence was sometimes necessary to achieve political goals.Savarkar continued to fight for Indian independence after his release from prison. He founded the Hindu Mahasabha, a political party that advocated for Hindu nationalism.

Sampath argues that the letter should not be interpreted as an apology for Savarkar’s revolutionary activities. Rather, it should be seen as a strategic move to save his life and continue his fight for Indian independence.

Sampath’s interpretation of the letter has been criticized by some historians, who argue that the letter is a genuine apology from Savarkar. However, Sampath’s interpretation is supported by the evidence. 

The letter was written under duress, and Savarkar was clearly trying to save his life. Additionally, Savarkar continued to fight for Indian independence after his release from prison, which suggests that he did not renounce his revolutionary beliefs.

Ultimately, it is up to each individual to decide how to interpret the letter. However, Sampath’s interpretation is a well-supported and nuanced one that takes into account the context of the time.

Forget not that Mahakavi Subranania Bharathoyar too had ‘signed’ an apology letter to the Britishers when he was released from Cuddalore jail to ‘refrain from engaging in political activities’. It was drafted by a lawyer friend who mediated for his release. Can we even dream of imputing surrender and servility to Bharathi? It would be worse than the worst blasphemy and sacrilege. 

The context is relevant. Perspective is significant. And how can we brush aside the long incarceration, torture endured by Veer Savarkar in the Cellular Jail and his extraordinary contributions as an extraordinary revolutionary and the  loss of his family members to British  excesses? 

The apology letter,  to me, was a strategic signature affixed to a Patra,cleverly conceived to achieve  mobility, to better serve Bharat Mata, from the outside!

Bharat Mata ki Jai! Jai Hind! 

(Writer is practicing advocate in the Madras High Court) 


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